Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Farewell, Gordon Brown. You weren't that bad


This piece of mine appears in The First Post

Neil Clark: Brown should have strung the bankers up from the lamp-posts – it’s what the public wanted

He's been called the worst Prime Minister ever - and that was by a politician from his own party. But was Gordon Brown, who announced that he was stepping down as Labour leader yesterday, really that bad?

The biggest charge made against Brown is that he has left Britain with a record budget deficit, expected to rise to 12 per cent of GDP later this year - the highest in the EU.

But his refusal to make swingeing cuts in public spending during the worst global recession since the Wall Street Crash meant that for millions of ordinary Britons the slump was nowhere near as painful as the recessions in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, when the Conservatives were running the country.

Despite dire predictions when Britain first went into recession, mortgage repossessions never hit the level of 1992, when 75,000 people lost their homes and interest rates hit 15 per cent. Part of that was due to the Prime Minister's refusal to let 'market forces' destroy people's lives. It has been estimated that around 330,000 families have benefited from the various initiatives that Brown introduced to help struggling home-owners.

The Prime Minister's policy - of waiting for economic recovery before wielding the axe on public spending - may have been slated by the opposition and the Tory media, but it undoubtedly has helped save jobs and kept a roof over many people's heads.

Under his premiership, Brown moved his party, ever so slightly, to a more social democratic position. The top rate of income tax was raised to 50 per cent - a significant move away from Blairism. Northern Rock and leading banks were nationalised. His foreign policy tone was softer than his predecessor's: contrast Brown's calls for an immediate ceasefire when Israel invaded Gaza with his predecessor's dismissals of such calls when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006.

These moves were enough to make Rupert Murdoch's neo-conservative, Tony Blair-adoring media empire turn against him, but not enough to entice former Labour voters, who had grown disillusioned with the rightwards shift of the party under Tony Blair, back into the fold.


You can read the rest of the piece here.

6 comments:

Steve Hayes said...

Well he wasn't as bad as John Major, that's for sure. But he went along with Tony Blair's warmongering, and was in favour of 90-day detention.

jock mctrousers said...

I'm sure he's not the worst PM ever - worse than Thatcher or Blair? Come on! But I think there's a case that he might be the worst chancellor ever. (I wonder if we're too easily accepting the elite agenda by accepting that the deficit means cuts are necessary. Like most of us, my grasp of economy is not great (couple with a near certainty that most economists are just bullshit artists or plain propagandists), but I've read a few articles here and there that suggest that this deficit is not exceptional, and point out that it's quite normal and even healthy for states to run deficits - they reckon that's what's changed is the power of the bond traders. For all the talk of Marxism, I get the feeling that there are few on the British left (or centre even) who feel confident enough about economics to take this issue up. We could do with a Michael Hudson or Paul Craig Roberts.) But it's the Private Finance Initiatives and their likely legacy which I think has a good chance of putting Brown into the worst chancellor ever league, possibly going down in history as the equivalent of the Irish guy who invited the Normans in - could be that serious! We'll be paying forever and probably getting NOTHING for it. Not to mention the untold billions given to the banks - to do what exactly?
What odds would you give now that we'll still have an NHS in 4 years? If it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for us - wait for it! Oh, and income support will have to go, and council housing, and housing benefits... Cheer me up someone!

Never mind! In a year we'll have another election with the Labour party led by a Mossad agent - that'll really get the punters in.

Mr. Piccolo said...

Mr. Clark wrote:

"But in today's neo-liberal, globalist era, where policy parameters are set by international capital and sovereignty-impinging institutions such as the EU and the IMF, politicians have largely been reduced to mere managers. And because the difference between their policies is so small, so the emphasis has shifted on to personality."

Yes, I could not agree more. Managerialism is the name of the game today. I think managerialism is related to the increasing atomization of society. It breeds the idea that people should sit in their homes and watch TV while the respectable folks run the show. When it comes time for an election, we treat it like one of those Pop Idol shows.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a connection between the decline of working men's clubs, for example, and the rise of managerialism in society.

jock mctrousers said...

I'm sure he's not the worst PM ever - worse than Thatcher or Blair? Come on! But I think there's a case that he might be the worst chancellor ever. (I wonder if we're too easily accepting the elite agenda by accepting that the deficit means cuts are necessary. Like most of us, my grasp of economy is not great (couple with a near certainty that most economists are just bullshit artists or plain propagandists), but I've read a few articles here and there that suggest that this deficit is not exceptional, and point out that it's quite normal and even healthy for states to run deficits - they reckon that's what's changed is the power of the bond traders. For all the talk of Marxism, I get the feeling that there are few on the British left (or centre even) who feel confident enough about economics to take this issue up. We could do with a Michael Hudson or Paul Craig Roberts.) But it's the Private Finance Initiatives and their likely legacy which I think has a good chance of putting Brown into the worst chancellor ever league, possibly going down in history as the equivalent of the Irish guy who invited the Normans in - could be that serious! We'll be paying forever and probably getting NOTHING for it. Not to mention the untold billions given to the banks - to do what exactly?

What odds would you give now that we'll still have an NHS in 4 years? If it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for us - wait for it! Oh, and income support will have to go, and council housing, and housing benefits... Cheer me up someone!

Never mind! In a year we'll have another election with the Labour party led by a committed Zionist- that'll really get the punters in.

olching said...

He got the main decisions as PM right, yet not as a Chancellor where he failed to challenge neoliberalism.

Still, history will judge him far more kindly than some of the blood-sucking media wankers have been treating him.

I wonder if any of them feel dirty for bludgeoning a man in public for years. Probably not...I feel disgusted for them...

Krakow's New Dragons said...

John Gray gets it right when he states,Gordon Brown can legitimately claim to have prevented the imminent collapse of the British banking system (even if, as Mason notes, the detailed work was done by civil servants working into the small hours over takeaway meals and stale coffee).

But there was never much chance that the government would grasp the nettle of nationalisation. The entire New Labour project has been shaped around embracing the City and letting finance capitalism rip; and entrenched habits of mind have dictated that extending state ownership – even where it might stabilise market capitalism – could not be seriously envisioned.

So ultimately he was failure. Having created the debt ridden bubble economy, he felt obliged to do something when it inevitably burst. But the dogma of neoliberalism still pervades all three parties.

The outlook remains wholly bleak and this isn't the time for delusions.

PS I'm systematically demolishing Edward Lucas' The New Cold War slice by slice forensically on Central Eastern Europe Watch.